Interview with Phillip Campbell, Senior Designer, on Omikron: The Nomad Soul

A quick chat with Phillip Campbell, Senior Designer at Eidos Interactive, who has worked closely with the Quantic Dream team over the last two years...

Omikron: The Nomad Soul - What is it?!?!?!!?
Omikron: The Nomad Soul is a futuristic real-time adventure that is being developed by a talented development group in Paris, Quantic Dream. The game's ambitious storyline and
gameplay elements transcend the narrow confines of traditional gaming genres, combining a deep game plot with adventure, exploration, action, combat and role-playing elements in order to fully immerse gamers into the Omikron world.

What is your title and role for Omikron?
I'm the Senior Designer for Eidos Interactive (USA), and have been walking the streets of Omikron for over two years "maintaining Eidos Interactive's commitment to design." Basically that means a bit of everything! Concept and level design, additional story, voice-talent wrangling, translations, integrating the"Bowie" aspects of the game....
Of course I'm always in total agreement with my two producers, Herve Albertazzi in the UK
and shadow producer Tom Marx in the US. Almost always....

If possible, put Omikron's story in a "nutshell."
The game of Omikron is essentially a trap. From the moment you walk into your local shop and see the Omikron box on the shelves you're playing the game, being lured into the trap. Imagine a device similar to the Hellraiser cube, it's a compelling and beautiful object that you MUST explore. Omikron is a parallel universe, existing in real-time alongside Earth, and once your soul is projected into its dark streets there is no turning back until you succeed, or fail. You arrive in Omikron in possession of a body you do not know, for reasons you cannot fathom. From this point on you will have to talk, investigate, fight, drive, shoot, ride and explore your way to the conclusion of the game - and gain deliverance from this strange dimension.
David Cage, the boss of Quantic Dream, has spent over three years creating his singular, unique vision of Omikron - it's all we can do to keep up with his flights of imagination!

How many characters can you possess (upon death)? Is there a limit? Are they all fleshed out in this 'world city'?
There are about 40 characters that you can "incarnate." This may be as a result of death or by your own choice. One of the skills you develop is the ability to freely choose who you will be next.
Death is by no means "The End." In Omikron, the player never has to "Quit," simply, the next person that arrives at the scene of your demise becomes you.
Once you gain the ability to incarnate other characters, the only limit is the strength of your skill. You may happen upon a body you are particularly keen on, say outside the Arena, or in the local Pharmacy. Then, it's a matter of your mana strength as to whether you can project your soul into that character or not. Each character you can play has many traits, everything from a name to a unique skill set. Some characters even have apartments, jobs, or family. Some are better at certain skills than others, you may find it easier to fight if you are in possession of a strong, fast character, or you may find it easier to sneak through a forbidden
installation in the guise of a Guard. One of the pleasures of the game occurs when you take on a new character as you pick up some of the threads of THEIR life. You may find yourself diverted from your main purpose to, for example, spend more time "interacting" with your new wife, or helping Jorg to become "Master of the Arena." Incarnate as a Taar Monk, and you will not only gain access to the secret fighting techniques of the Taar, but also may feel a spiritual need to "walk the planet," misquoting religious tracts and writing bad poetry!

Tell us about the engine capabilities.
Phew! Of course it's not just about technical capabilities, glossy special effects and variety of big guns, the measure of Quantic's success lies in whether they've succeeded in making an immensely playable and REAL world to experience. Here's some of what you get!

A full-featured first-person shooter engine, with mouse control,intelligent enemies and interactive, cinematic interludes.

A totally 3D fighting engine, with combos, special moves, each fighter and opponent with unique styles.

A revolutionary 'learning' system - not only can you research and learn the rudiments of good investigation technique (adventuring, if you will) but fighting and shooting skills can be constantly improved. In shooting, players can learn their skills and practice different weapons at the many virtual shooting galleries throughout the city. You may even get some insight into guerrilla tactics from Krill, the resident weaponry expert.For fighting, most characters have access to virtual training centers,where they fight holographic enemies, and later, masters of the fighting art will demonstrate and teach the player new moves, combos etc. And, of course, if you're brave enough, there's always the Arena.

The ability to explore many diverse zones of the city surrounded by hundreds of passers-by and vehicles. Every door has something behind it,
adding to the richness of the story. Add to this over 40 possible reincarnations and over a hundred speaking characters...

Full body and facial motion capture for the first time ever in a game,coupled with hours of dialogue. In Omikron, conversations are never static!

Realistic day/night cycles, random snow and rain.

Virtual concerts and a fully cinematic "gametrack" of original music.

A cohesive and dynamic story, in the mould of the classic adventure games of the past, with a scenario that starts perhaps reminiscent of the Blade

Runner genre, but develops into something altogether more magical...

Oh, ok then....DAZZLING special effects and REALLY BIG GUNS!!!

Here's Omikron in figures:

More than 400 different sets in four huge cities

More than 140 types of characters in 3D real-time

More than 300 objects that can be manipulated

Hundreds of passers-by and vehicles move about in the streets

Two years to write the scenario

3.9 kilos of game design

Thousands of sketches in the graphical design

Four hours of dialogues with more than 1200 responses

693 moves in motion capture

35 people working over three years, including 11 programmers

489 pizzas, 302 hamburgers, 71 chicken pineapples with Cantonese rice,

894 litres of Coke

411 taxi bills

Equals - one realistic world, complete gaming freedom, who will you be next?
Everyone, hard-core gamers, and novices alike, all start from the same place - alone, confused, scared. It's up to you and your soul to decide what to do next. Take advantage of the training, or just pile straight in? Go shopping, or go shoot something? Talk or fight? Follow the noble cause and save Omikron, or just hang about your apartment listening to cool music - it's all up to you...

Source: Eidos Interactive

Interview with Phillip Campbell, Senior Designer, on Omikron: The Nomad Soul Saturday, November 11, 2000

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